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Sitting in one of the most environmentally friendly countries in the world, Riga is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its art nouveau architecture dating back to the late 1800s and early 1900s. Dominated by Gothic spires, the city is vibrant and cosmopolitan with a reserved exterior belying its flash art nouveau character. Flush with funky bars, hip restaurants and intriguing art galleries, this city will not disappoint. Close to the jet-setting seaside resort, Jurmala that sits on a whitewashed beach, there are blueberry filled forests to frolic in and huge sand dunes to play on.
The capital and the largest city in the Baltic States, Riga (founded 1201) sits on the Gulf of Riga at the mouth of the Daugava River. It is a popular tourist destination due to the cheap flights from most of Europe and its throbbing nightlife scene. Split in 2 by the Daugava River, the Old Town sits in the heart of the city on the east side of the river. There are over 800 Art Nouveau styled buildings with intricate facades, decorated in carved flowers and mythological creatures, dressed with ornate doorways and windows. The Germans destroyed much of the old town during World War II but it has been restored to its former glory. It is beautiful to slowly stroll around and where you will find the Art Nouveau Museum if you are interested.
Crowded with churches and cathedrals to flow in and out of in an endless religious vigil, the gob-smacking view from the spire of St Peter's Church will leave you in awe of the city below with its quaint red roofs, cobbled lanes and the sparkling blue of the Daugava River. Don't be put off by the overflowing lift to get you to the top, as it is worth being a sardine in a tin for a few moments. Temporary art exhibitions are sometimes held in the church, so take the few moments to explore it. The museum lovers will adore the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia for its history lesson, whilst the Riga Ghetto and Latvian Holocaust Museum will bring tears to your eyes.
Make sure you get the chance to try the strong local traditional liqueur "Riga Black Balsam" (aka blow your head off with vodka mixed with different plants).
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